I had never done this LDWA event before although I had heard about the famous hill climb for cars.
It didn't take me much more than a hour to get there and I set out to get a couple of extra miles under my belt and to explore the village. The parkland/ estate was beautiful and full of lambs leaping about. Ironically by the start there were four of us from Preston and if only we had known we could have shared transport. It was all typically low key as we assembled on the lane and were told off you go.
The entries were small and I suddenly realised that there were very few runners, infact within 500m it was clear only 3 of us were running at the speed I hoped to go. I chatted with Pete as we climbed out of Barbon on a lovely little track through the woods and then across the road and bridge to join the bridleway up to Bullpot Farm. Pete is responsible for me doing all this in a way as it was him that took me to my first Howarth Hobble and Calderdale Hikes so I owe him for that.
The marshalls seemed a bit disappointed that I didn't need anything but we had only been going a few miles and I was just getting into my stride. I slowly and steadily pulled away from the two men and hoped I would find the way OK. The path uphill seemed quite obvious, if a big boggy in places. I climbed up Crag Hill with atmospheric views across to Wernside and Great Knoutberry. It was encouraging to see that almost all of the snow has now melted. The running from Carg Hill to Great Coum was easy and I soon spotted the marshalls and their tent sheltering in the wall corner.
This section is Fellsman land so I knew where I was going. Down, down and then bog bog bog until the so welcome green land that leads onto Occy Road. Today it was left, not right to Dent, and the next CP on Barbondale Road. I still didn't fancy stopping and there was no sign of Pete so I pushed on and prayed my route finding would be OK. The grassy path around the fell to Tofts was great running and then I dithered a bit but found my way down onto the lane.
It clearly does not get much traffic as parts were flooded and others used to pen sheep. The lane did go on a bit but it was quiet and the miles ticked by. I surprised the marshalls at the next CP who had not been expecting us just yet. I thought the next bit was track but it turned out to be tarmac whether it was road or track - fortunately the views into the Howgills distracted me until I hit the grassy bridleway at Holme Fell. I made my only nav error here and climbed too high but it was soon put right. The ancient sunken green lane was a bit rutted but it was over too quickly and I had another short section of tarmac along Jordan Lane.
I did stop at the next CP and the food was very welcome. We joked about trying to race the rain and I set off to climb up onto the fell. Long Bank is well named and I wasn't entirely sure which path to take but figured up and right until I hit the ridge wall would be fine. I could see my goal of Calf Top but there was a huge loop around Luge Gill first. (wonder if anyone really has ever has luged it?) These hills are nicely rounded and would be great for cross country skiing if the had a good cover of snow.
At the self Clip by the Trig I saw my first and only other person in the whole day! a fell runner going in the opposite direction. The drizzle had started by now so we did not linger or chat. The col before Castle Knott was incredibly wet but from then on it was superb running all the way back. The path swooped and dropped steadily down to Eskholme Pike with its huge cairn and then more steeply towards Barbon. I could see the church and thought I might break 4 hours 30 but it didn't seem worth a sprint and I ran steadily across the final field to the bridleway and the hall. I had not considered that there would be so few runners that I would be at the front and route finding the whole way but it had gone well. 4 hours 33. I was glad that I had done over 2 miles before the start and only had slightly less than 2 to do now. Barbon village hall is new and airy and the quilts hanging on the wall were amazing. It was good to sink several cups of tea and to refuel with pie and peas. I had a long chat with the organisers who were clearly troubled and disappointed that so few had turned up. It's a great route despite the road section so I will encourage others to have a go next year. It would be a shame for the event to die out and it got me onto some tops I had not visited before and was so wonderfully quiet.